Finally learning with the Celestron NexStar 8SE — 6 Comments

  1. Hi PolyWogg,

    Thank you so much for posting this information. Fortunately for me, I did not have to go through two years of frustration thanks to your post. It was more like two months. I was extremely frustrated not seeing deep sky objects and wondered as well if it just wasn’t possible with this telescope. To be sure, I planned to call Celestron tomorrow to ask about this, but I found your post first. I realized I had a serious alignment issue last evening when, after an hour of slewing around the sky with much disappointment, I called up Saturn, the first object viewed, for a final see before calling it a night. It aligned just fine earlier in the evening, but now it was so far off that I was shocked. I realized I had a lot to learn about alignment.

    Thanks again, and happy viewing.


  2. I have both the 8 SE and Evolution-8 mounts. Most of the time, I get good results for alignment, but there are times when my alignment isn’t accurate. I’ve found good results in getting balance points on the OTA with camera and accessories installed using a pencil to balance the OTA on. Balance is important and has really improved performance on the SE. The Evolution mount mitigates balance issues as you can loosen the clutch and easily move to the balance point. Check backlash also helps with the performance of the scope tracking and goto accuracy. For alt-az mounts though having to constantly make adjustments on latitude and RA axis, it is amazing there’s any accuracy. I found your blog on CN and I found your documentation very interesting to read. Thank you for sharing!

    • I’m fortunate that I’m not often adding much more than the OTA, so the balance doesn’t seem too far out. I played with backlash a bit, but it seemed to make things worse, not better. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed it!


  3. I have found your posts entertaining and very informative. I recently bought a Celestron 8 SE and for the past 4 weeks since it’s arrival we have had extremely cloudy and rainy weather.
    I am not going to complain about this as it has afforded me the opportunity to do a lot of reading and info searching. This is why I am writing this, to say thank you for the insight you have given me, I am sure it will help me avoid the traps you found yourself in as a new user.

    • Hi Allan,

      Congrats on your purchase! The good news is that it seems like 90% of the 8SEs work GREAT right out of the box, and even higher with 4SE/5SE/6SE. For the rest of us in the 10%, it seems like there’s a few extra wrinkles and it is JUST enough to frustrate the heck out of someone like me. I also confess that I didn’t do a good enough job early on to ask for help from others. At least not strongly enough. I’m an introvert by nature, and I didn’t know anyone with a similar scope to help me figure out the gremlins. The funny thing is that while my blog is about lots of stuff in my life, the posts about alignment problems and solutions are always at the top of the list of hits for the day. So we’re not alone!

      FYI, I also highly recommend Michael Swanson’s book about the NexStar series, although I’m also reviewing it chapter by chapter so you’ll see the types of info it has. Much of it is on his website too, although I found the book far better worded for some of the examples. Particularly when it comes to things like backlash and slewing (just in case you ever need that).

      On the positive side, I’ve been playing with my iPhone with it of late and having some success. Not NASA quality, just souvenir shots, but it’s working at least. 🙂

      Clear skies, and don’t be a stranger! FYI, there’s also great forums on Cloudy Nights as well as a fantastic forum on FB called “Amateur Astronomy – Telescope, Binocular and Imaging Forum”. It’s a large group but I’ve found the people on there particularly good at helping out with Qs on any aspect of astronomy, and faster than CloudyNights even.

      I’m on there as Paul Sadler.


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